Friday, September 30, 2005

Me, Master Criminal

OK, it's been an intense two days. I've been detained in the local slammer and subtly threatened with all sorts of charges without being charged etc. Someone once said my life is like a soap opera ... but come on! Can it be at least a more intellectual soap opera instead of one written by Jerry Springer's second string writers???

A man claiming to be a policeman turned up at the gallery looking for me two days ago and demanded to speak to me. Fortunately ... or unfortunately, I was not at the gallery but he demanded to see me the next day. I thought it was highly dubious that he asked to see me outside of a police station and his identification which he showed my colleague only had his first name. We started calling him the Bogus Policeman.

It took a lot before I decided that he might be on the up and up, including phone calls to the police station where he was stationed and a check on what his jurisdiction included. Apparently, it is the Commercial Crime Unit. Oooohhhh ... I started wondering what I could have done wrong. The irony is that before I even went to the station, I interrogated him.

"What's your full name?"


"Hansen what?"

"Hansen P."

"Not good enough. P for what?"

And so it went. The roles were certainly reversed but the man refused to tell me what it was about or if the case was against me or I was supposed to be a witness etc. He was so shifty that I ended up feeling like he was the criminal and I was the law trying to get the truth out of him! But being a law-abiding person, I turned up at the station that morning as arranged. In my head I kept hearing desperate bleats while the words "Lamb to the Slaughter" flashed through my heated imagination. Remember, I was still suffering from the heat stroke from the day before.

Turning up there, the bloody man was not even at the station! I had to sign in and wait ... I think I waited for almost an hour. Good thing I brought a good spy thriller to read while waiting. Bastards.

He finally showed up and then led me to a room. And left me there! I must have waited for almost 30 mins before he showed up again. I was right pissed off. Finally he showed up again and started asking me a lot of weird questions about my financial dealings and my scope of work. After trying to explain all the different pies I have my fingers in, he was truly confused and was giving me severe looks. I asked him repeatedly why I was there and he never once answered my question. He gave me some ambiguous statement about some criminal act involving the use of computers.

Huh? Did my blog here finally get me in trouble??!! But! But...!! I've only started it since August 2005? Wow, there must be some kind of record I am breaking.

Anyway, they essentially detained me .. without officially detaining me. They took away my mobile phone when I tried to call my office, my lawyer .. anyone! They said they needed to check the numbers and messages on my mobile and took the whole thing away. I thought it was rather convenient that they did this just when I said I wanted to make my one phone call. Hey, I watch telly. I know you are entitled to one phone call at least! But no, he told me that I was not under arrest therefore there is no need to call anyone and we would be done any moment now. OK, peeps ... I was there from 12 till 9pm. Figure that out!!! Can you spell Rodney King??!! OK, I am not black ... OK, African American ... but I can spell that!!!

Then he told me they would need to confiscate my computer to check what I have been doing on it. I had my work laptop with me but I told him it's ridiculous as I'd just started using that one like 2 months ago and according to them, this purported crime I've committed is months ago. But some reason, he did not demand to check my laptop. I thought it was all very suspect.

Bogus Copper told me the Deputy Prosecutor would like to see me so we took a drive. But woah, Singaporean efficiency! She was not there. DUH!! We went back to the police station. I was starting to try to recall the few seconds of footage I've ever seen of Police Academy 1-568.

Then the kicker - Hansen P Bogus Copper told me he needed to go sort something out and will leave me in the room. I had water but that's about it. I thought he would be back in 30 mins as before but noooooo ... I waited there for almost 1 1/2 hours! I even wandered out of the room (it was not locked!) and went on a walkabout looking for the loo. At one point, I even helped a policeman remove the ink cartridge on the printer in my room when he came to "borrow" the ink cartridge. Oh no! Did I aid in a felony??? *Gasp!* Nah, he brought the thing back about 15 minutes later. I helped him put it back. Such excitement ... Amazing! I could have been a terrorist and blasted the place to kingdom come and these Barely Heeled Cops would not have had a clue. Jaysus.

I finally got home but I would have to turn up again tomorrow for my second "interview". At this point, I still had no clue why the hell I was there in the first place. So I called my director, who wondered if I had fallen off the ends of the earth since the Bogus Copper did not let me call the office to tell them my plight! Anyway, his gf's sister is a Police Inspector so I took her name down so I can lodge an official complaint. He was also highly indignant and so was his gf's sister. It was all very dubious.

I also called a lawyer I knew. He was astounded and after a discussion, told me to gather all records of my financial dealings etc. He was going back with me the next day to the police station where we can tell them "where to stuff it" as he said. I think he felt really sorry for me as I kind of burst into tears in the middle of my tirade. Not from fear or grief .. but just because I was so pissed off to be treated like that. I'm not daft! I knew what Hansen P was doing. He was trying to break me down and coerce me into admitting some kind of crime! Like what??? Illegal use of split infinitives in my sentences? Unlawful conduct towards a chicken during the preparation of Quick Chicken Fajitas?? Oh oh ... I know .. that long overdue library fine?

Anyway, I took the next day off as I was so distraught and had to look through all my boxes (I am still not fully unpacked) for any and all financial records I had. I also made copies of all my emails etc on a CD-ROM just in case. It took me the whole day as I was so unfocused ... I did not sleep well the night before. At 5pm, my lawyer, Jon, turned up and we had a pow wow. He assured me I had nothing to worry about (unless I was lying to him - at which case I started to wonder if I should lie to him about something as he looked kind of disappointed) and that we will lodge a complaint against Bogus Copper.

We turn up at the police station and woah .... what a change in attitude! Yesterday, Bogus Copper was tough and treated me like I was some kind of halfwit. Today, with Jon by my side, he's all nice and buddy-buddy. I felt like buddy-buddying him in the bloody crotch. Unfortunately I was wearing comfy Keds and not my heels. Damn.

First, he apologised to me about the previous day. Apparently, until they realised that I had really made a police report months ago about my ID being stolen along with my wallet, they had thought I might be the mastermind behind a criminal syndicate. Wow .. me, Master Criminal. I was not sure whether to be flattered or offended. It was also a real indication how incompetent they were. I'd lodged that report in April and they did not even know about it. Hey, I did not lodge it at the local 7-Eleven but at a real police station. Unfuckingbelievable!

Apparently, a Sri Lankan criminal syndicate (can't be that bright if they were caught by Barely Heeled Cops) used my ID to make fake IDs. Bloody 'ell, I am a template! I feel so ... original. Anyway, as they could not locate me, since I sting like a bee, flit like a butterfly (sic), for the past few months, they came to the "natural" conclusion that I must be the mastermind. And you wonder how the Barclay debacle could happen in Singapore. Roll eyes.

Me? A master criminal in a fake ID syndicate? You have gotta be kidding! Of course, now that he said that I started wondering how you would actually go about doing it. I even told him he could not have been doing things right if he could not locate me. I gave him some really good ideas - like obtaining the mobile number from mobile service providers using the ID number, or contacting the Inland Revenue peeps to find out where my salary was being paid out to or from etc. Come on! You're the cops, you should know this!! He looked a little embarrassed. And then he asked if I could cover for him by saying I travelled a lot so he could not find me. ROFLMAO. Unbelievable.

So, I am going to court next week. I am a material witness in the case. And Hansen P is currently sweating buckets hoping I do not bust him. He even bought dinner for Jon & I - packet duck rice from someplace nearby. Not bad .. but not bloody good enough!

You know, this country never fails to amaze me. It both amuses and scares the living daylights out of me. Only in this country can a woman who can get lost in a shopping centre (long story .. and there were no proper signages in that damn building!) be considered a Master Criminal.

I am way too nice too. Since Hansen P grovelled and bought us dinner, I decided not to complain against him. Also, Jon told me that it might lead to future repercussions of harrassment from the police so I decided to play nice too. The last thing I need is a policeman stalker. I had one of those in my early twenties and it was nasty. Who do you go complain to about a policeman sexually harrassing you???

Anyway, stay tuned for when I return from court. I hope I do not get into more trouble than I have from doing nothing. Jaysus, only in this country.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Quick Chicken Fajitas

I came home early today after a media interview that I think went well ... if only I knew what the hell they were saying. The entire interview was in French. I will only have to hope that the journalist will be ethical and not write things out of context etc.

Anyway, I came home and decided I might have some fajitas. Don't ask me why ... I just thought that I should since I had avocadoes, tomatoes and I'd just bought some organic salsa which I was dying to try out. Problem is I'm not a big fajitas chef since all the fajitas I ever had homemade were cooked up either by one of my ex-boyfriends and one ex-housemate. Since the ex is far away in a different time zone now I thought it would be terribly unfriendly for me to call him just to get a recipe. And the ex-housemate has been going through a major midlife crisis and I did not want to have to listen to that just to get a recipe. Sounds uncaring but he really put me through hell with his shenanigans (booze, drugs, hookers, uninvited weirdoes in the house in the middle of the night and strange women ... and one bloke I think ... trying on my clothes from the dryer, etc) and I swore we would always remain distant .. very distant friends after that. So, seeking the most peaceable and safest alternative, I scoured my cookbooks and the Internet for one instead.

I found one and it looked really simple and fairly quick. I needed quick ... I have too much work to do.

Quick Chicken Fajitas
3 tbsp oil
1 sliced onion
1 sliced pepper - I used half a yellow and half a green pepper as I had these leftover
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp gruond oregano
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 large chicken fillets or 4 small ones
Tortillas - warmed (about 2 for me but the recipe called for 4)
1 chopped tomato
1 chopped avocado
Grated cheese - I had some Edam so I used that
1 cup salsa

1. Heat the oil and saute the onions and peppers till tender

2. Add the spices and cook for 1 min
3. Add in the broth and bring to boil
4. Add the chicken and cook for 8-10 mins (shorter time if using small fillets)
5. Warm the tortilla - I zapped mine in the microwave on High for 35 seconds on one side and then flipped it and zapped it for 10 seconds on the other
6. I removed the chicken from the mixture and sliced it into strips and added it to the pan again to coat and warm. The original recipe just asked that you dump the whole chicken into the tortilla
7. Place the chicken mixture on top of the tortilla and add the tomatoes, avocado & cheese

8. Roll it up, dip it in the salsa and eat it quick while it's still hot

I thought it was an OK dish but I was not really blown away by it. I didn't really like how the chicken was almost poached and I think if I repeated this recipe again, I might grill it next time before adding to the peppers and onions mixture. Also, I tried to be super healthy so I did not add sour cream with the tomatoes and avocado which the original recipe asked for. I think that compromised the taste. I'd add that next time if and when I make this again.

The organic salsa I used was really yummy. I am so glad I spotted it at the supermarket. Since I came across sites like Fresh Approach Cooking, I have been even more intrigued by organic food. My mother used to use them back in the 70s and I typically try to use organic pasta if I can find them and if they do not cost an arm and a leg. They do taste better.

So, this meal scores a 6.75/10 for taste and a 7.5/10 for health. I had a lot of leftover chicken mixture as well as avocado and tomatoes. I decided to eat them together in a bowl and save the rest of the chicken for quick pasta dishes.

Also, I paired it with orange juice. After getting a bit of a heatstroke during the installation of the sculptures today (shoulder are a little pink and tender still), I decided I should take extra care with dinner. And now back to work.

Categories - Chicken Run

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Miso & Watercress Soup

It's been a long, looooooong day and I found myself so exhausted I was drifting off every time I stood or sat still for more than 10 minutes. It's been an extremely productive day but the week-long lack of sleep and non-stop slogging has defintiely taken its toll.

Coming home, I was too exhausted to do much except a very simple meal. I needed sustenance real fast but not too heavy that I will not be able to go to sleep immediately after. I had to be at the site tomorrow at 9am for the installation of our 3 monumental sculptures.

So looking around, I decided to have miso & watercress soup. I know it sounds like an odd combination but I had some leftover miso soup mix, which is too salty for my taste, languishing in my pantry for the longest time. It was time to end its misery. I also had a packet of watercress that I needed to use up or it would become mush soon. And I thought the overly salty miso would be tempered by the crisp, clear sweetness of the watercress and it would also add some "meat" to the soup without meat, if you pardon the pun.

Miso & Watercress Soup
1 packet miso soup mix
2 squares of sea kelp
1 bunch of watercress - hold the lot at the stalks in one hand & just tear off the leafy section coarsely from the stalks

1. Add the miso soup packet into a pot of water and set it to boil on the stove
2. As it is boiling, add the sea kelp. The ones in the mix are pathetic little strips that would not add to the texture of the soup at all. I rather fancied the difference in texture between the crunchy and chewy watercress and the silky, limp sea kelp.
3. Boil for about 5-10 minutes
3. Add the watercress and simmer for another 5 - 10 mins till cooked
4. Season to taste if needed but that is highly unlikely

I ate the soup as is. I am always a little leery of pre-packed miso soup mixes as I have a thing about monosodium glutamate in my food. Therefore, although this soup may appear healthy, I would rate it a 7.5/10 with 1.5 points deducted because of this. Tastewise, it scores an 8/10.

And now to bed, sweet glutton, perchance to dream of MSG dreams.

P/S. That's not my photo but I can't remember where I got it from so if it is your, do let me know and I will put in the proper attribution.

Categories - In Hot Soup, VeggieMight

Monday, September 26, 2005

My Name is Kelbeh

Recently, Ella told me to look at a particular dancer's, let's called her Yukhnee (it's kind of an enormous Lebanese pot roast), website as she described it as being particularly softporn-like. Amused & alarmed in equal measures, I clicked into the fray.

I saw a few faces I recognised ... but what I did not recognise were the names. Suddenly, peeps I had known by some Chinese or English name were suddenly called some pseudo-middle eastern names like Avaya or Khara or Ibn e Halbwit. It was hilarious and reminded me of a very funny story one of my favourite teachers told me.

Mahmoud Reda had been in town a while ago and (I say this with the fullest respect and confidence that I am right) he is truly deserving of his title as Grandmaster to all dancers and teachers. I have never been in as much awe and like of a teacher as this incredibly gracious, generous and phenomenally talented man. The fact that he tells some of the funniest stories helps too.

At a dinner, Ser forced and prodded me to tell Mahmoud a funny encounter I had a while ago that truly demonstrated some of the ridiculous behaviour some dancers get up to. I was a bit shy (shaddup peeps! I am TOO shy!) and hesitant to tell my story but I finally caved.

A while ago, a particularly unbalanced dancer (no, no .. not BB .. another unbalanced dancer) we shall call CP, got me to perform at a show with her and another dancer. She doesn't like me much but is forced to get me to perform because her clients insist so let's say it's tense ... very tense. After an evening of my ignoring her snipes, she finally lost it ...

"What's your stage name, Stephanie? Give it to me so I can give it to the MC," CP said.

Huh? Stage name? What stage name?

"Like my true name is Asinin and Cindy (the second most painfully Chinese person I have ever seen after CP) is Salamander. So what's yours? Hurry up and stop wasting time!"

Woah ... chill, MsMyRealNameIsAsinin ... flabberghasted & trying really hard not to crack up, I just muttered, "Er .. OK .. my name is ... Stephanie ..."

"No .. no .. you must have a stage name!" CP was almost beside herself.

"Er ... OK .. my stage name is .. Stephanie ... "

"Will you stop saying OK! Fine, if you don't want to use a stage name, then you are just going to look stupid!"

"Er ... OK ..." I am sooo trying not to crack up now.

Come on!! I have enough problems remembering my own name without confusing myself and cracking peeps up with a The Artist Formerly Known as Clueless act! I did not spend years building a cache in my *gasp* real name in order to play diva. It was incredibly hard restraining myself from rolling my eyes out of their sockets that night.

Anyway, I tell Mahmoud Reda this story and we are just pissing ourselves laughing. He then told me a cracker of a story that totally validated my decision not to make an Asinin of myself.

He had gone to the US and a whole horde of women turned up for his workshop in full middle eastern costume and makeup! Classic! And then a bold American woman introduced herself.

"Hi, my name is Kelbeh."

Double take, eyes widened, stifled laughter ... "What was your name again?"

"Kelbeh, Mr Reda," the woman announced breezily.

"How did you get this name?"

"Oh, an Arabic man gave me that name," the very Caucasian lady announced.

"Really ... did you know it means Bitch?"


I was wiping the tears from my cheeks.

Anyway, looking at Yukhnee's website and her students, I remember that conversation with Mahmoud Reda. I so wished he was right there with me as we would have gotten a real kick out of it.

You know, these ladies would have been better off celebrating their individuality and uniqueness instead of denying their identity and pretending to be something they will never be accepted as. Worse, they do not even realise when they are actually offending the people they are pretending to be. I have realised that they would much prefer it - in fact respect and understand it more - if we respected and paid tribute to their culture instead of pretending that we were from it when we are obviously not.

The line is always fine but please ... some dignity please, ladies. At least find out what your names are supposed to mean. Just one wrong spelling or a vindictive person taking the mickey could mean something totally hilarious or obscene.

"My name is Kelbeh ... I live on the clueless floor ... I live in ignorance about you ... guess I've seen you laugh at me before ... lalalalalala .... "

Categories - Rambling Prose

Friday, September 23, 2005

Aussie Angels

All you need is one more and they would give the chicks from Charlie's Angels a shimmy run for their money. I came across this old picture of the lovely Australian dancers at the ball I wrote about recently. Eva & Janet .. wonderful dancers ... beautiful women .. even more amazing souls. I really need to send them an email soon. Sigh. Maybe in my 4 hours of sleep sometime soon.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Deer Mee

I have had a total of 5 hours sleep in the last two days. Everything is at crunch point and I am racing against the clock. Thank goodness I am on one of my prolific writing periods so I managed to produce two press releases, 3 direct marketing cover letters, one email blast, 2 brochures text, 1 proposal and 2 curatorial write-ups in these two days. I know ... everyone has been kowtowing to me at work, muttering "We are not worthy ... and we fear you ..." LOL.

I am barely standing now and coming home from work in the taxi I actually dozed off countless times. I decided to buy some flowers to brighten my bedroom so if I have to burn the midnight oil, at least I can have something beautiful to rest my tired eyes on. They're really pretty but I have no clue what they are. The florist tried to tell me but I did not understand her English so I just paid for them, smiled cluelessly and scurried away.

I also got a message from BB today - remember her from the dance concert. She told me that the photos from my performance were ready and to go to her studio to peruse them so I can place my order. I was appalled but unsurprised. Let's see .. get the twit to perform for you for free, take photos of her performing for you for free, then charge her for the photos. Nice ...

I, of course, did not have time to cook so on the way home, I bought dinner at a nearby food court. Never ate there but someone told me the czecha (hope that is the right spelling) place is rather good. Thank God the lady could speak English. After the day I had I was not quite up to trying to communicating in my half-baked Chinese. She recommended a number of dishes and as I started zoning out, I heard the words "Dear me ..."

"Gesundheit," I muttered.

"Sorry? Oh .. *giggles* .. no, no, I said you should try our deer mee."

"Er ... Bambi?"

Actually I love venison but I am used to the way they serve it in the Chinese restaurants ... hotplate, baby! ... or in stew, German style. So I was intrigued by this dear me business. She recommended the venison noodles cooked in a black sauce with hor fun noodles. Interesting.

Always game to try something new, I ordered it. It was delicious. The sauce was overflowing and the venison was tender and tasty .. and fresh! The noodles were a bit clumped together but I think it was only because I walked home and it took a while as I was also dragging my mega-tonne computer bag and briefcase home. But after some jiggling around of the noddles in the sauce, problem solved. It was really yummy. I foresee more visits to that food court. I think the lady suspected I would too as she gave me their card and told me I could always call them for takeaway. Smart woman. Am I that obvious?? LOL.

Right, back to work as all my deadlines are up tomorrow - I essentially have less than 3 weeks to pull together two exhibitions so it's no sleep till then. Worse, we are moving our office - OK, just next door but we still have to pack all our artworks, files etc - and I have had no time to think about it till Sat as I do not even have time to go to the loo! When it rains, it bloody pours.

Crack whip over myself as I go back to work. Bloody slave driver.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Louisiana Shrimp & Egg Gumbo

For some reason, I have always liked gumbo. I'm not even sure how I first came to know about gumbo since it is defintiely not on the menu at home. I think it might have come from one of my visits to my mum and she either cooked it in honour of some visiting friend or some visiting friend cooked it for us. Anyway, suffice to say I like gumbo. Something about it is just so comforting and warming.

And I kinda needed that as I've been sick almost two weeks and am feeling as weak as a kitten. And my appetite had been off so I decided to cook today .. no matter how late I got home from cook.

But first I needed to do major grocery shopping. My larder was starting to look so empty that I was making the Old Lady in the Shoe look well-stocked. And boy, shop I did! *Nods head sagely like Yoda* I bought so much groceries ... all healthy stuff ... that peeps in the supermarket were looking at me askance. One nice old man even asked me if I was planning a big dinner. LOL.

Anyway, my fridge and larder are looking more respectable now and these should tide me for two weeks I think.

I assembled the ingredients for my gumbo - it was already 9.45pm! Shite, at this rate I will not be able to finish till close to midnight as it takes more than an hour to cook. Sigh ... oh, well.

I munched on an eclair that I bought from Ritz Apple Pie while I was assembling the ingredients and putting away all my groceries. It was kinda bizarre tasting. I'm quite traditional about my eclairs and like them with cream and even then just the normal, whipped cream variety, not even the choccie creams etc. This one was really odd - a cross between apple-flavoured cream and custard. Odd, very odd. It was tasty but the odd combo just threw me off. I think I prefer the Polar chocolate eclairs from near my office.

The recipe called for the addition of eggs, which I thought was highly unusual. I'd never had gumbo with eggs before. I noticed that it was supposed to be hard boiled eggs cooked in the gumbo whole. Odd. I wasn't too sure about that as I wondered about how tasty the dish would be be whole eggs. If they were cut up and added to the gumbo, that would add to the taste & texture but the yokes would disintegrate into the sauce in the 15-20 minutes cooking time required. But left whole, it was quite pointless. Hmmm ... I decided I would modify the recipe and make the eggs like Les oeufs modestes. i.e partially hard boiled but with the yoke still soft and runny, and added to the gumbo like a garnish instead of stewing it in the gumbo.

Louisiana Shrimp & Egg Gumbo
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped - the recipe originally asked for 1 but I love garlic so I modified it
2 cups hot water
1 cup celery, chopped
1 stalk spring onions, chopped - my bunch was actually about 3 little stalks in one
1/2 green pepper, chopped
3/4 red pepper, chopped - original recipe asked for 1/2 but I had 3/4 left so ...
1 tomato, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme - I reckon I added more, about 1/3-1/2 tsp
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 partially hard-boiled eggs, shelled - original recipe asked for 4 but I think 2 is more than enough for 1 person
1 1/2 cup okra
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper - original recipe asked for 1/4 tsp but it was too bland so ...
1 chicken stock cube

1. Heat up the oil & add flour to make a roux
2. Cook till it is dark brown, stirring constantly so it does not burn
3. Add the onions and garlic and cook till they are tender
4. Whisk in the hot water
5. Add all the ingredients except for the shrimps and eggs and season to taste

6. Simmer for 1 hour

7. Add shrimps and simmer for 8-10 mins (the recipe asked for 15 minutes but the shrimps were so fresh and I hate overcooked and rubbery shrimps)
8. Serve the gumbo over rice

9. Garnish with the two eggs

If you are cooking for one, you will find more than half lefttover. It is intentional as I want to keep this gumbo and have it for quick snacks, lunch etc. And gumbo always tastes much better the next day. Overall, this was not the most impressive gumbo recipe I've come across. I thought it was a bit bland and if I had not modified it so much, it would have been quite disappointing.

The addition of the eggs was nice and I am glad I choice the direction I did as the runny yoke flowing over the green of the gumbo was not only visually appealing but tasted brilliant too. I rate this about 7.5/10 for taste and 8/10 for health because of all the vegetables in it. I will see if it improves in the taste ratings the day after.

Categories - Fish Tales, Call Me Others

Pork Ribs & Lotus Root Soup - OMMMM

Right, it's gonna be a double-posts night as I promised Ella I will help her with the recipe for Pork Ribs & Lotus Root soup. Actually, she wanted Pork Ribs, Peanuts & Lotus Root Soup but I only know the version I am gonna be posting here.

Firstly, I think you need to understand why this soup came about and its significance. It's because ... it tastes bloody good. LOL .. but also because almost every Chinese mother has cooked this to "boost" her kids' health. It is a very nourishing tonic soup and tastes even better the next day. As to Ella's version with the peanuts, I honestly have never had that version for two reasons.

One, I've drank this soup before but never learnt how to make it till I was in my twenties. I was working in a company with an amazing cleaning lady who could cook the most wonderful Chinese food. Her name was Helen and for some reason she really took a shine to me. Maybe because I never failed to inhale anything she cooked for me. I think she also felt sorry for me being such a workaholic and always missing meals. One day, I asked her how she made such wonderful soups and she very kindly taught me. I believe it is more Cantonese? I'm not sure as I get confused about which food is from which Chinese dialect group. Thank you, Auntie Helen for this scrumptious soup. I hope you are still merrily cooking wherever you are now.

Two, I grew up with childhood arthritis till I was in my early teens. Imagine a ballet student with arthritis and merciless adults forcing you to "just suck it up". Anyway, my grandfather was a Chinese doctor (retired) and he used to make me eat ... steady now ... chicken feet with peanuts soup. I know .. major EEEUUWWWW. I absolutely hated it and would cry and sob as they forcefed me with this ghastly and barf-inspiring brew. Apparently, in Chinese medicine this soup helps alleviate and heal arthritis. Didn't work with me but that could also be because I would puke out the soup after that. To this day, I am deathly afraid of chicken feet and cannot eat soups with peanuts in them. I can eat peanuts .. just not in soups.

So, sorry, Ella. You can figure out how to add the peanuts to your soup but this recipe is nutless. I never wrote this recipe down and would just cook it from memory so bear with me in case I forget something.

Pork Ribs No-Nuts & Lotus Root Soup
Spare ribs - use about 1 slab to feed two - what's 1 slab ... er, about 12 individual ribs for hungry folks & about 8 for 2 normal peeps
Lotus root - use one with at least 3 segments for 2 peeps (each segment about palm length)
3 shallots, peeled and ends removed but otherwise whole
1/2 dried cuttlefish - oy, remember to remove the transparent membrane *shakes head at some of the clueless people I've taught*
About 5 dried conpoys (aiyah, the dried scallop lah)
2 red dates - seedless
Black pepper
Chicken stock cube - I tend to use these instead of salt

Tip: If you have a slow-cooker, use it - it's bloody useful for peeps who work. If not, use a normal claypot. Try not to use a metal pot. Chinese soups do not do well cooked in metal pots.

1. Wash your lotus root really clean, making sure there is no soil in any of the holes
2. Slice your lotus into discs about 1cm think
3. Scald your spare ribs very quickly in hot, boiling water and remove
4. Place the ribs in a pot and cover with water till water is at least 2 inches above the level of the pork pieces
5. Place the dried cuttlefish, conpoys, shallots and dates in the pot and bring to boil
6.Once it is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 mins
7. During this point, remove any "scum" and if it is too oily, remove the oil that floats to the surface as well
8. Add 1/2 the chicken stock cube if needed. If it is too salty, add more water and bring to boil
9. Add the lotus roots
10. Bring to boil again and then lower heat to a low simmer for another 20 mins
11. Season with the rest of the chicken stock if needed and add pepper to taste
12. Serve hot with rice and dip the pork pieces in chilli sauce & you will have a super yummy meal

A1. If using the slow-cooker, put all the ingredients in the pot with only 1/2 the chicken stock and more water - it will cook down
A2. If your slow-cooker can be put over the stove, bring everything to boil on the stove first as that is faster
A3. Place it back on the metal base and set the slow-cooker to high
A4. If your slow-cooker cannot be placed over the stove, then prepare for a long wait as you set your cooker to high and wait for the soup to come to a boil
A5. Once the soup is boiling, lower the setting to low and cover and leave it, making sure the water level is not so high that things will boil over
A6. Go to work
A7. Come home - same day please. It tastes good the next day but not if everything is burnt to a crisp
A8. Taste and add more seasoning, broth or water according
A9. Serve with rice

Try to remove as much oil as you can from the soup and this dish is actually quite healthy. Tastewise, this soup has always scored a consistent 9.5/10 for me and everyone who has ever drank my Pork Rib & Lotus Rib Soup always finish the entire pot so hide some away so you can have leftovers. It really is much, much better the next day. Healthwise, this soup rates a 8.5/10.

So, Ella, let me know how it goes. Hope it goes well and if you need any help, just yell. You know, this kinda reminds me of my aunt. Whose in-laws thought she would be a good cook coming from my family and expected her to cook a feast for them a month into her marriage. Panicked, she called my mum. Who turned out to be out of town. But who had her hapless and clueless daughter visiting her - when she was away .. duh. I ended up cooking the whole bloody thing for my aunt and buggering off before her in-laws came. I think to this day they still do not realise she did not cook that meal. And yes, I cooked this soup then too.

Strange, this soup always seems to bring families together. Oy, Ella ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink? Oy, Ed! LOL.

Categories - In Hot Soup, Meat Me for Dinner, Chinese Herbs

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Clueless Express

It really is not my week. Woke up feeling really ill and could barely move out of bed so I had to put up with the maid working aorund the house. For some reason, she seems to like to talk ... a lot ... Even though I was coughing up a lung and looking like something the cat dragged in, she just would not shut up ... until I actually collapsed. Dramatic huh? I suspect even then she yabbed on. Jaysus. Now I know how some men feel about their wives.

By the time I awoke, it was 4.30pm and I realised that I had not eaten since 6pm the previous day. Time for sustenance. Only one problem, I felt too damn ill to be standing for a long period. And no one was home. Bugger.

Luckily the computer is next to my bed. So I crawled over and tried to find what I can order in. My throat still hurt like I have been trying to swallow nettles so no pizzas, no burgers, no fried stuff .. which left me with ... nothing. Shite. I remembered this service called Cuisine Express that I used a couple of times long ago. Depending on the restaurant, the food could be a hit or miss but I remembered that it was bloody expensive. But I really did not have much choice. I was too sick to go out & grab food or to cook something and I did not know when anyone would be home to help get me some food. So I wept silently as I prepared to part with an arm & a leg in order not to starve.

Looking through the menu, I didn't see much in terms of soup or stews that I could stomach without hurting my throat or my stomach. And for some reason, I kept thinking of a nice hot bowl of miso soup ... so Japanese it was. Specifically Genki Sushi. Sushi Tei's menu looked really sad. Their menu had items like Combo 1 with no description of items, Party Set A with the description it was sushi ... and behind door number 3 is ... Not really knowing what they were actually selling, I decided to go with Genki who at least told you what they were serving like Amaebi, Hana Maki, Genki Maki etc. Man, Sushi Tei really needs to work on their marketing.

Ordering fairly quickly, I placed my order and within 10 minutes a girl called me back to confirm my order. She told me it would be delivered between 7-7.30pm. I could deal with that. So I waited. And at 7.05pm, they came! I was so impressed! That was excellent service, I thought.

Until I opened up the bags. My beef kimchi soup was packed just right. But the gyu yakiniku set was in a plastic bento carton that was not sealed properly and the delivery man must have been doing Fast & Furious moves on his wheelie as what I had left was a plastic bag of sauce and a dry beef set. To say it was disgusting is an understatement.

And my sushi & sashimi came with no wasabi. That is not only sacrilegious and unconstitutional but a real health hazard. I was also exasperated that the delivery man did not have change. Especially since I had told the lady that I only had big notes and to instruct the delivery guy to bring change. Suddenly I remembered the other reasons why I never used Cuisine Express - they were not only expensive but consistently got my order wrong, never brought change and I remember one delivery man who tried to give me back my change minus a tip he'd decided to give himself. Ahhhh ... not-so-sweet memories flood back.

I called Cuisine Express back and made my complaint. The girl was very polite and nice but totally ineffectual. She gave me no solutions at all and even tried to convince me that eating sushi & sashimi without wasabi was the way to go. I told her I had no intentions to head for Food Poisoning City. The gall. Finally, I got really annoyed, especially since the poor delivery was standing there clutching the change & looking distressed while us ladies were discussing whether the restaurant should be liable to either give me a replacement set or deduct the from the total amount payable. I could not believe I was having this conversation.

I finally thrust the bag of yakiniku sauce & wheelie-dried beef at the delivery man and told him to take it back and bring back the wasabi for the sushi & sashimi. I paid in full and told the Cuisine Express peon that I had paid in full, they bloody go sort themselves out, send my wayward wasabi to me post haste and either give me back my money for the gyu yakiniku or give me a replacement. I told them I would be working till late so they have that much time to continue to piss me off. And I shooed the man off before I collapsed a second time today.

So, it is now 7.30pm and still no news from Clueless Express. I am actually timing them now. I really am going to try to do some work and if I have finished it by the time they finally call me back, this article is going live on email blast and to the media. A sick and hungry woman is a pissed off woman. It would be my duty to respond to the Prime Minister's speech about service levels in Singapore during his National Day Speech. I hope he has his teh tarik cans ready.

By the way, why has not covered the National Day Speech by the Prime Minister yet? Come on, it's begging for it.

Clueless Express Update
I must be that scary when I am pissed. The beleagured delivery man arrived at the door at 7.50pm with a new gyu yakiniku set and more wasabi than a Singaporean NS boy trying to win a pissing contest. Again, I was impressed by their speed. Unfortunately, the delivery man scurried off in a blaze of relieved fear before I could tip him. Oh well. I will send an email to Clueless Express to commend them on doing their best to rectify their mistake but I will still point out their need to get it right the first time. I would never use them again unless I was truly desperate. Deja vu that.

Now to the food.

Beef Kimchi Soup - this was fairly tasty but I found the meat over-cooked. Well, for S$6.80, I suppose they used the cheapest cut possible and it showed. The addition of enoki and shiitake mushrooms made up for it a little and the kimchi was not too spicy or too bland. I rather enjoyed it despite the meat quality.

Sashimi - I had the salmon and kajiki toro. Was very tempted to have the amaebi but as I seem to be getting a bit of a rash from the medication, I regretfully passed on that. Sigh. The salmon was average but the kajiki toro was uneven in cuts which greatly compromised the quality and it was a little dried out so obviously it ain't that fresh. Shame, Genki Sushi.

Sushi - the california hoso was really soggy and I could tell it was made a while ago. It was incredibly bland and I thought it a bloody disgrace. I had two pieces and could not eat anymore for fear of barfing.

Lastly, the controversial gyu yakiniku set. Coming from a family of chefs, I peered carefully at the bento set to see if any .. additions ... had been made. It looked fairly innocuous but cynical me picked carefully at it anyway. The beef was incredibly salty and again, the cut is really bad. I was not impressed. The rice was good but really ... how badly can you feck up rice? Er .. actually I take that back as memories of a certain aunt's attempts to cook flood back.

I could not really eat much so I packed up almost half of the yakiniku set and the sushi to keep in the fridge, as well as a third of the beef kimchi soup. The only things I finished were the sashimi and the miso soup.

All in all, I think Genki Sushi and Clueless Express do not warrant another visit. Other than the beef kimchi soup, the food was either average or abysmal. Couple that with the poor service (even if they did make up for it later) the overall review is that it was not worth the money using them. I better get well soon as I am sick of being held hostage by crap food delivery services in Singapore. If someone is reading this, you do realise that there is a huge market gap here, right?

Categories - Rambling Prose

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Great Men Have Great Flaws

Am wallowing in my own misery and watching telly. Double whammy that.

First on, I wanted to comment that I learnt something new today, which always makes me happy. I am such a nerd. Anyway, was watching the Naked Chef (sic) and realised that you never add salt to your broad beans when you are boiling them. Why? Because the salt toughens the skin. Oooooorrrrhhhhhh ... man, those drugs do my head in.

Secondly, I was watching some movie about The Kennedys. And Jackie Kennedy asked her MIL why her husband had so many other women if he loved her as much as they said. And her MIL said ... dramatic pause ... "Great men have great flaws." Wow ... how profound ... how insightful ... how ... bunch of bloody bollocks!!!

So what? Ordinary men have ordinary flaws then? So if an ordinary bloke keeps dipping his banana into as many fruit salads as possible, it's a punishable offense in a divorce court. But if a great man does the same ... woah, it is forgiveable? Gee, how Orwellian is that? Or if a married woman was walking around shagging as many blokes as she had knickers, she's labelled a slut and reviled by all and sundry. What bloody double standards and a piss poor excuse. Jaysus.

And a woman said this. What a fantastic soundbyte for women who think that their men are greater than their self-worth. No wonder generations of women have been suffering under the yoke of infidelty as if that was their rightful burden. If women teach other women these Arsehole Fables, how will we ever learn that we will only earn respect when we do not let it be ripped away from us like a used condom? Blame men all you want, ladies but you are your own worst enemies sometimes.

And before anyone goes on & on and uses the Clinton example of public sanction of infidelities, I had no issue with the man as a leader. I just had issues with him being a gormless coward who lied to his wife under oath and repeatedly until he was so busted that he had no choice but to 'fess up. My greatest issue with that git was his abysmal taste in women. For the love of God, Monica Lewinsky and that Jones woman??? Is he blind or insensate? If he just wanted to switch off the blinking lights and make like they are all the same, I can bloody point him to a couple of gay bars where cigars and monorail mouths are not unusual party favours.

Anyway, my ire at the Kennedy MIL over-rode the slight stupour the medication has put me under and I just had to post this to relieve my fury. Now I will go have a cuppa and calm down.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tim Tong Tim Tam

I'm still not the healthiest camper but I managed to stagger into the office today. Being away for so many days at such a crucial point was giving me nightmares. Either that or it was the arsenal of medicines I have been on.

Dragging myself into the office, I bumped into my director who looked like he's been dragged through a couple of bushes by way of New Orleans. He looked that shattered and I wondered if I had passed on my viral flu to my colleagues. But no ... he'd just had a harrowing morning arguing with the boss. Apparently, it was really volatile and even louder than usual voices were used. Oh dear. Cowardly me was glad I had missed that.

But I reckon that some star of dissent was up today as I got mine later in the day. I'd passed on some materials for a coming exhibition to my assistant manager for translation - remember the Chinese lady at the dinner at the Hyatt? Anyway, it was very clear she wasn't very keen. Fair enough, it was a fair bit to translate - about 6 pages. Roll eyes. But what got me was that she took on the work at first and later asked me if the boss had approved this and I should check with her. She also questioned whether I should be giving materials to the press - I'd told her I was giving the translated information to a particular publication. I think she forgot that I was her boss and also the person in charge of marketing. I also think she forgot that I usually keep a keen eye on everyone's workload and knew that she had relatively little on her plate.

By now, I knew she had a problem with answering to me or in fact doing anything for me. Actually I think she has problems doing much of anything beyond curatorial research. Being older than me and a recent graduate from the local art school (which we all know is below par), she was under some misconceptions and had a few ego issues. I'd tolerated it and not made any acknowledgement of her little insubordinations thus far. In fact, I even forebore from "telling her off", as my boss requested, regarding the dinner incident at the Hyatt (as in I did not even speak to her about it thinking she would not accept that kind of criticism even if I was just the messenger). But today, being ill and frankly having had enough, I very politely but clearly told her to just complete the assignment and report to me by Wednesday and I shall handle the boss and the media as is my mandate. Hey, more than 10 years of experience in marketing, communications and journalism is nothing to sneeze at, Mdm Tak Mao. *Which reminds me ... wipe runny nose on Kleenex*.

I was amazed when she threw a hissy fit later. Less than ten minutes after our conversation, she walked into my office to tell me she was going off to lunch. I allowed her to do so as I thought she might need the time to get her head in order. It was 2pm and we were going to close the office at 3pm. I wondered if she would come back into the office or deliberately come back late to make me stay late. Which would be a waste of time as I am usually the last one to leave and the habitual late-stayer. It was a silly thought anyway as I realised she has never stayed later than 5 minutes past closing time.

Ten minutes to 3pm, she walked back into the office without announcement and at exactly 3pm, she walked in and bade farewell to the director without even a glance in my direction. I was not surprised at her behaviour but I reckon I gave her too much credit and expected more professionalism and .. well ... brains than this.

Now, five minutes ago, the director had crawled back into the office, looking like so much roadkill. I waited till he had settled in and we finished a discussion about his argument with the boss this morning and how we can resolve this. The poor man decided that I should be the next one to try to persuade her to end the impasse and it was at this point when I mentioned that I might need to find another assistant manager.

To my surprise, he was unsurprised that the Chinese lady was having problems reporting to me. He'd predicted earlier that Ms China would have issues with my "younger age and higher position" and might resent me as she was typically Chinese - his words. But he was still absolutely appalled by her behaviour and had noticed her rudeness and insubordination. Wow, when a bloke notices, you know it is bad. Just kidding ... OK, OK, no brickbats from the blokes please! I think he was also miffed that she had not taken his instructions to heart as he kept saying that he had been very clear at the first internal meeting about her line of report.

He resolved to make it even clearer at next week's meeting. Frankly, I think it is a lost cause. I recommended that she answers only to the boss, since she thinks that is the only person she is answerable to, and we change her title to Curatorial Manager, since that was the only area she was interested in. I am a strong believer of not beating a dead horse and to cut your losses when you can. I am ashamed to say that we both had a discussion on the hiring of Chinese nationals as staff and the changes in attitude in the last two years. The conclusion was that while they may have been a good bet 5 years ago but, in recent years they have developed an attitude of doing less is more and why struggle to perform if you cannot see immediate results. For some strange reason, they have equated capitalism as the "having" without "working" concept. As a half-Chinese, I was embarrassed.

Anyway, after this tiring waste of time, I decided to pack it in and go home. It was 4pm and I was fading. I realised I needed some substenance although nothing appealed. On the way home, I went to the food court opposite my house and after a gander, decided the only thing I could probably keep down was some Chinese tim tong aka sweet soup aka dessert. I bought a carton of red bean soup then as I walked away I wondered if it might be too "heaty" (Chinese principal of ying and yang) for me .. so I wandered back to get a carton of cheng teng just in case. Hot cheng teng since my cough was still a persistent bed fellow.

I know it is a bit of trying to battle ying with yang there but hey, these are the only things I can keep down at the moment. My larynx is hurting too much for solid foods so I have been on a liquid diet this last week. Explains the weight loss. All my clothes are loose now.

Then I came home and discovered that a friend had come around to visit me knowing that I was ill. Awwww ... except I was not home and was at work. The sweetheart left a get-well gift for me too. A packet of Tim Tams and a mini bottle of Baileys. Lovely ... except I can't eat them right now. Bugger! Bugger! Bugger!!! This is no God! ... oops, just kidding Mate, sorry.

Depressed now, I decide to call up a mate and ask him if he was going to the Chinese classic films festival. He'd sent me the email when I was laid up in bed and I was too sick to even get excited by the number of old kungfu movies they had.

First thing I bark out is "Oy, how come if it is a Chinese classic films festival ... all the titles are in English???" Couple of chuckles and nudge nudge wink wink jokes later, Kelvin told me he was only interest in the yellow movies. Eh? What? What yellow movies?? I looked at the list again and realised that the bright colours were not there just because the email blaster was a colourblind designer. Wait, the yellow movies are the ... pervy ones! Eeeuuuwww!!

"I am really only interested in the sex movies. I have made no plans with anyone to see them but do you want to come with me?"

"You perv! But it's straight people's sex movies. Why the hell are you interested in that?" I asked perplexed.

"Aiyah. When don't have, even the straight one also can, lah," our insouciant fellow retorts.

Ah, equal opportunity perving ... I get it. Not sure if I should be flattered or worried to be asked to go along. I stated I was only interested in the kungfu movies and none of the weepy, romantic movies. He was surprised.

"Really? How unlike a girl ... would have thought girls would kill to see Chin Hsiang Lin," Kelvin said sagely.

"I spit on those movies. You will have to kill me first to watch them. And Chin Hsiang Lin? Puhleeeease! Hey, did you know he was in a porn movie?"

"Whaaaaaat???!!! When?? Really??? Do tell ...."

After a goss session where I had to dredge up teen traumas of seeing a Chinese goss mag featuring a butt nekkid Chin Hsiang Lin with the words "Chin Hsiang Lin Bares All in Cat 3 Movie", we decided that we'd compromise and go for the movies next week. I'd watch 1 yellow movie with him and he can come to the kungfu ones with me. Yippeeee! (I soooo know Kelvin is currently trolling through the Internet looking for info & piccies of Chin Hsiang Lin in Cat 3 movies ... ROFLMAO.)


In case you wondered, I just karate chopped a Tim Tan in half. I caved. I need the choccie fix. After this I will down some cough mixture. Cack ... Haaaaiiicackyaaaaahhhhh!

I know I am sick when I suddenly start hankering for my grandmother's Itek Tim. And pulut hitam. Sigh. Cack. If I feel better tomorrow, I will make myself a big pot of chicken soup or meatball & veggies soup.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

God Dengue

Sick as a dog over the weekend and still suffering the depths of hell here. I've apparently contracted a viral infection .. no, not the Avian flu ... and thankfully not dengue fever too. I've said this many times and I am sure I will say it again. Doctors in Singapore suck.

I had the worse migraine over the weekend. The sort where just opening your eyes and having any light hit felt like shards of glass slashing into every nerve in your head. Went to see the local quack and he told me that I had tension headaches. OK ... why does my throat hurt and my bones ache then? His response was to give me an arsenal of medicine. All of which, sans one, made me pass out upon consumption.

Finally, even more ill than before, I went to another clinic - and got sent to the hospital in a mad panic. They thought I might have dengue fever as there appears to be an outbreak in my area and my neighbour is suspected to have contracted it too. Bugger, bugger, bugger ... I cannot tell you how I hate hospitals.

At the local public hospital where they carted me off to, it was a bloody long wait for my turn. At this point I am so ill and groggy I am not quite sure what I am there for. So I wait. And wait. And wait. Mind you, I did not have my mobile phone or watch on me so I had no concept how long I was in there and the one clock I spotted was so far from me, I could not make out the hour hand from the second hand. I reckon I waited for about 2 hours. Not kidding.

It was finally my turn and the doctor read the note from the GP and handed me off to a nurse. Who drew my blood and I got sent out again to wait. And wait I did for another hour I think. By the time I got to see the doctor again, I found out that I fortunately did not have dengue fever but lucky me had a viral infection. Apparently a carryover from the really bad flu I had about 2 weeks ago which (they informed me critically) was aggravated because I did not take care to recover fully from before I exerted myself. Exerted myself?? All I did was work .. not as if I went and climbed the bloody Himalayas!

Anyway, they gave me an injection and packed me off with an arsenal of medicine. All of which this time made me pass out.

I really hate doctors.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Crabs, I Did It Again!

We had crabs last night. Black pepper crabs .. totally yummy but as I was at a work dinner, and wearing some rather nice threads, I decided that I would be ladylike and hack daintily at the crab legs with my fork & knife instead of mauling them with my fingers & teeth.

We had a company dinner at The Mezzanine at the Hyatt Hotel. Always a great spot for food but I could tell that our artist was a little uncomfortable. Being a fairly simple bloke from China, I think he felt the place was too posh for him. What was worse was the new colleague we hired - another mainland Chinese import. Perhaps her nerves got to her or she was too eager to make an impression that she made a great many gaffes at the dinner table. Actually, she was pretty full on even on the ride to the hotel. So much so, the boss got highly irritated at her and told me to tell her off and to stop her from flirting inappropriately with the artist. Terribly awkward that.

Anyway, we had the most amazing sashimi platter ... everything was so fresh, I almost thought the sweet ebi might make a run for it and try to swim away. I loved the sashimi platter but we were hard pressed to finish the entire platter as three of our dinner companions were either allergic to or in fear of the lovely little morsels of raw seafood.

This was followed by the black pepper crabs. Very succulent and tasty but I reckoned that the No-Sign Board and Jumbo places were better - mebbe it was lack of tactile and slobbering enjoyment that threw me. LOL.

The mixed grill was excellent. By now, I knew I was incapable of eating anything anymore but valiantly, I ate a slice of steak. Medium rare, tender and of an excellent cut, it was ambrosia laced in Bernaise sauce. The single lamb chop I ate was unfortunately cold ... never a good thing and therefore, the taste was highly compromised. Still, I could tell that it would have been very delicious if it was really fresh off the grill. Perhaps, I waited so long to eat it that it went lukewarm on me. Oh well.

Finally, and thank God I was too bloody stuffed to eat it ... the beef fried noodles. I had totally given up by now but everyone who ate it refused to eat it again. Apparently the noodles were strange tasting - "too starchy", according to one erudite colleague and "taste funny funny one" was the verdict from another eloquent critic. We returned it forthwith and Hyatt showed why it was a top hotel when they cancelled the order and offered to give us either a replacement or dessert compliment of the restaurant. We declined and were very appreciative of their gesture anyway.

Now that is good service even if their beef noodles sucked. Which brings me to the point - why top restaurants would spend a fortune and immense time crafting complex and gourmet menus and neglect the really simple, basic things. Ruining beef noodles that any neighbourhood hawker centre can deliver is inexcusable. I think the Hyatt sous chef and F&B Director should wake up and smell the yeast.

Because while we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the food and the service, the dinner was ruined by the disappointment that they have lost the plot.

P/S. Not my photo and can't remember the source so if it is yours, do let me know and I will add the proper attribution.

Categories - Rambling Prose

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pesto Crust Chicken

I had to go home fairly early today as I was waiting for the seamstress to come over to fix one of my costumes. The woman was late, of course so I was famished just waiting for her. I could not go out to get some dinner and could not go out and get groceries so in desperation, I raided my fridge.

I still had not really had a chance to do proper grocery shopping so all I had was two chicken breast, 1 avocado, 4 eggs, 1 yellow capsicum, potatoes, onions, some baby carrots, a can of olives, a packet of coconut cream, pesto sauce and some kai lan. Hmmm, it had to be fast as I had a shitload of work to plough through if I wanted any sleep tonight. So, I stuffed the chicken breasts into the microwave to defrost - not my favourite thing to do as your chicken inevitably gets overcooked and rubbery no matter how careful you are when you defrost it in this manner. But hey, beggars can't be choosers tonight.

So, another Steph original started taking place - truly another case for necessity is the bitch of invention.

Chicken in Pesto Sauce
2 chicken breasts
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp of Italian herbs (I used McCormick for this)
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp white wine
2 tbsp olive ol
4 tbsp pesto sauce

1. Marinate the chicken breasts in Italian herbs, salt, wine and 1 tbsp of olive oil for at least 15 mins
2. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade & pat dry with paper napkins
3. Spread the pesto sauce over the chicken on both sides
3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet till hot
4. Saute the chicken breasts in the oil, about 5 minutes
5. Flip the breasts carefully, making sure not to dislodge the pesto sauce crust
6. Saute the other side for about another 4 minutes
7. Serve hot

I paired this with a rataouille of sorts and no carbo since I had some soy beancurd dessert in the fridge.

Yellow Rats!tatouille
1 yellow capsicum, sliced into 1 cm strips
About 5 baby carrots, julienned
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic, sliced
1/4 cup of olives, sliced
Olive oil

1. Heat some oilive oil in a skillet
2. Saute the onions an garlic till fragrant
3. Add the peppers & carrots and saute for about 5 mins
4. Add the olives and season to taste

I would have liked to add some mash potatoes to the meal but I am trying to be more healthy and the seamstress arrived just as I finished cooking the veggies. By the time I finished with her and got to eat, it was lukewarm. Bugger.

Still, the meal was fairly good considering how quickly I whipped it up with the few ingredients I had. I would score the chicken about 7/10 but I might add more pesto sauce in the future as some of the crust did get dislodged a bit - I might have spread it too thin. The vegetables were a refreshing side dish to the chicken and I ended wishing I had more capsicums and some zucchini so I could make a ratatouille ratstatouille. Oh well. I give the side Yellow Rats!tatouille a 7/10 too. So overall, the health rating for both is about 8/10. I felt very virtuous after this meal.

P/S. I used a photo I found on the Internet and cannot remember the source so if it is yours, do let me know and I will put in the proper attribution.

Categories - Chicken Run, VeggieMight

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Got Milk?

I went to a girlfriend's house for a short visit since she just delivered her first-born. The fuss was tremendous. All these women getting broody and making gaga noises and goo goo eyes at the oblivious newborn.

I'm not a particularly maternal sort and am completely at sea with all this baby stuff. So, it was with complete stupefaction and pity with which I watched my former Party Girl girlfriend become a zombie. The song was even playing in my head as I watched her trundle off to another room to breast-feed her son.

Three hours later and there was still no sight or sound from her. Worried, I decided to go check on her. Found her in the baby room with one mammiferous body part stuffed in her son's mouth. I gaped ... "He's still feeding??? Jaysus! Now you know your son is growing up to be a tit man, doncha?"

She managed a weak grin and really worried now, I sat next to her to find out what the deal was. I was horrified as a sad tale of virtual imprisonment to the baby Nazi unfolded. Apparently, it took an average of 3 hours to breast-feed the baby. Bloody 'ell! I can't even sit through a hairdresser's appointment ... this totally cemented my conviction never to be a breeding sow. The poor woman was tired and suffering from extremely low self esteem - a complete role reversal from the vibrant, in your face, total Wild Woman who used to shock the blokes with her antics.

She told a torrid tale of sitting in a small room with no company for hours, almost having to be surgically detached from baby's liplock, feeling like life is passing her by and a total disconnect from people in general. This sounded like a real case for post-natal depression to this neophyte Dr Seuss. And no wonder! If I had to sit for 3 hours with some little man's lips locked on my ... er ... right, shutting up now.

Anyway, I was still reeling from this experience when I had dinner with a girlfriend and we pondered this situation. My girlfriend could shed more light since she has already produced two rugrats of her own but even she was shocked at the extremity of the situation. Then I made her choke on her sliced fish noodle soup when I said that it was as if the baby had sucked her personality right out with the milk too.

I know ... my timing sucks.

Anyway, back to the food. We ate at Ka Soh at Amoy St as we were craving Chinese food after an extremely long and hard day of workshops with Yousry Sharif. So, it was the sliced fish soup which was yummy but I felt that it was not as good as it usually is. And of course, we had the Har Cheong Gai, which is the chicken deep fried with prawn paste. It was totally yummy. Crispy, hot, tasty and incredibly orgasmic. We had some unknown vegetable (looked like lettuce to me actually) sauted in sambal. The meal was great and I went home highly gratified.

Not the most healthy meal but hey! I needed comfort after the trauma of watching Rapacious Tit Kid at work. And I went to bed determined I was not gonna join the rank of Attack of the Body Part snatchers victims anytime soon - if ever. Shudder.

Categories - Rambling Prose